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BeliefBlazer Offline
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Posts: 13,806
Joined: Jun 2004
Reputation: 295
I Root For: UAB
Location: Portal, GA

Post: #1
You can't blame Auburn if it went a bit overboard with the self-congratulatory pomp and circumstance after last year's epic season. It bears repeating: Auburn won the SEC title and was 12-0 going into the bowl season and didn't really get all that much consideration for the Orange Bowl. No matter what you think about how good the Tigers were, there's no denying that somehow, some way, that team deserved to be playing for the national title and should be the poster team for why there needs to be some major tweaking to the post-season system. But 2004 was 2004.

Auburn fans are clinging to a desperate hope of another big, national-title caliber season, but the SEC has a way of bringing teams back down to earth. Look no further than last year's loaded LSU team that had a defense every bit as good as the national title winner, but the team didn't get the same breaks twice and didn't get the same all-around production from the offense. Look at Georgia two years ago, or Tennessee after the national title season. Auburn has to try to get back on top of the mountain without one of the most talented offensive backfields college football has seen in many years, but the cupboard is far from bare.

The formula might be this simple for the 2005 Tigers: Either new QB Brandon Cox is a star, or this will just be a good, 8-3-type season. Jason Campbell was deadly accurate and made all the clutch plays needed for a 13-0 campaign; you don't get that same production two years in a row. Tre Smith, Kenny Irons and Carl Stewart form a good backfield, but it hurts to lose Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Auburn's bread will be buttered with its defense and receiving corps. The front seven is devastating with some of the most disruptive ends in the nation, while the linebacking corps, while light, is very active and very good. The receiving corps won't get nearly enough pub with Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu, Anthony Mix and Devin Aromashadu (not to mention the great tight ends) forming the SEC's best corps outside of Tennessee.

The Schedule: Starting off with Georgia Tech's killer defense will be a big test for the new Tiger backfield. After that, things ease up with South Carolina and at Arkansas (both winnable games) standing in the way of a 6-0 start before facing LSU. Playing at Georgia from the East isn't fun, but missing Tennessee and Florida is a nice break. Alabama is much improved, but the Iron Bowl is at Auburn. In other words, if Auburn beats LSU, it should be the SEC West champ.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Marcus McNeill. Probably the nation's best offensive lineman, McNeill is a top 15 pick in the 2006 draft and likely would've gone in the first round this year. He and Troy Reddick form a devastating pair of tackles.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore DE Stanley McClover. Yeah, LB Travis Williams is an All-America caliber star, but it's McClover who's about to grow into a national superstar now that he has the full-time end job. He's a flash to the backfield who should shoot for a 15 sack season.

Key player to a successful season: QB Brandon Cox. Cox has the line to protect him and the the receiving corps to put up big numbers. If he doesn't turn the ball over and doesn't make a ton of rookie starter mistakes, the offense will be fine. He's the difference between an SEC West title and, possibly, a third place finish.

The season will be a success if ... Auburn gets back to the SEC title game. The Tigers won't go unbeaten, but there's no reason not to be playing for another championship with this great defense. Considering the road games at LSU and Georgia, second place in the West would be acceptable.

Key game: October 22nd at LSU. If Auburn wins this game, it'll probably mean an 8-0 start and a spot in the to three. The hype machine for the Georgia game and the Iron Bowl will really get rolling.

2004 Fun Stats:
- First half scoring: Auburn 224 - Opponents 39
- Rushing touchdowns: Auburn 27 - Opponents 4
- Third down conversion percentage: Auburn 46% - Opponents 28%
08-14-2005 04:57 PM
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